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In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.
Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…
- Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
- The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
- White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
- The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
- Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
- Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
- The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
- Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.
Full Story | 45 Comments | Categories: Alex Gordon | Alex Rodriguez | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Gomez | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cole Hamels | Francisco Rodriguez | Gerardo Parra | Jean Segura | Jonathan Lucroy | Juan Uribe | Kansas City Royals | Kris Bryant | Los Angeles Dodgers | Lucas Duda | Manuel Margot | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | Mookie Betts | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Robin Ventura | Ryan Braun | Salvador Perez
Here’s the latest from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, via a video on FOX Sports:
- When the Orioles discussed an extension with Chris Tillman this spring, Tillman favored a contract similar to Lance Lynn‘s three-year, $22MM deal with the Cardinals. That contract did not buy out any of Lynn’s free-agent years. The Orioles were interested in a longer deal for Tillman that would have delayed his free agency eligibility.
- The Brewers‘ poor start suggests that they could be sellers at the trade deadline, and Rosenthal notes that they could deal Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Gerardo Parra or even Aramis Ramirez (despite Ramirez’s plans to retire at the end of the season). A player who could bring a much greater return, though, is Carlos Gomez, who is signed to a bargain contract the next two years.
- The Rangers could trade anyone if they fall out of contention, but it might be somewhat tricky for them to deal Adrian Beltre, who has limited no-trade protection and who has about $34MM left on his contract. Beltre also recently turned 36 and is off to a slow .149/.167/.298 start offensively. One might think that would only impede a trade if it were to continue deep into the summer, however — Beltre has a long history of providing excellent value both offensively and defensively.
Several MLB teams continue to value the relationship between certain pitchers and otherwise reserve backstops, as Jay Cohen of the Associated Press writes (via the Dayton Daily News). While the concept is hardly a new one, Cohen explains that pitch framing (to say nothing of pitch calling and the even more nebulous notion of pitcher handling) all come into play as well. Whether it is worth giving up a roster spot to a specific player with the idea that he will primarily catch just one (or more) particular starters is, of course, a difficult and context-specific question.
Here are a few more stray notes from the day:
- The Mariners posted a $11.6MM operating profit last year, which — as MLB.com’s Greg Johns explains — the team reported per its stadium lease agreement. Seattle has a provision in is lease that requires it to share profits with the public entity that operates Safeco Field, the details of which are included in the above-cited piece. Needless to say, this is just another indicator of the current upswing that the team has enjoyed since a disappointing run from 2010-2013.
- Still searching for options at first base with Adam Lind dealing with back issues, the Brewers plan to give Gerardo Parra a look at the position, as Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets. The 27-year-old has some experience in that role as an amateur, though he has played exclusively in the outfield as a professional. As a roughly league-average hitter, much of Parra’s value has come from his work with the glove in the outfield grass.
The Brewers announced today that they’ve avoided arbitration with outfielder Gerardo Parra by agreeing to a one-year deal. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (via Twitter) that Parra will earn $6.2375MM — a nearly identical sum to the one projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Here’s the latest from the National League side of the ledger:
- The Nationals will sit down with Jordan Zimmermann‘s representatives at the Winter Meetings, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports. Matt Cain‘s extension with the Giants (six years, $127.5MM) may be the best comp for Zimmermann and the Nats as they look ahead at renewed contract talks, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney notes on Twitter. Of course, that deal is now a few years old, so it may require a bump up to account for inflation.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. faces a difficult task given how little leverage he brings with him to San Diego, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Other clubs may be looking to take advantage of the perception that Philadelphia needs to make a move to start its rebuilding process, Gelb explains.
- The Braves are still waiting to find the right deal for outfielder Justin Upton, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the club is hoping to add a second baseman and/or starting pitcher if it deals him. Among the teams with interest are the Royals, Rangers, Padres, and Indians, per Sherman.
- The Brewers are open to the possibility of dealing outfielder Gerardo Parra, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Per Rosenthal, Parra — who is projected to earn $6.4MM through arbitration (via MLBTR/Matt Swartz) — could make sense for teams that fail to land Melky Cabrera.
Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), and already took a look at some notes earlier today.
Here’s the latest on the upcoming decisions:
- Righty Alexi Ogando and first baseman Mitch Moreland are expected to be tendered contracts tomorrow, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Both players have some upside that Texas is surely loath to give up on, though each brings some uncertainty with their projected $2.6MM and $2.8MM arb costs (respectively).
- As things stand, the Braves‘ only certain tenders are slated for Mike Minor and David Carpenter, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The team is still unsure exactly how it will proceed with respect to rehabbing starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy as well as pen lefty James Russell. The southpaw, who was added at the trade deadline, projects to earn a fairly meager $2.4MM and seems a decent value at that price tag.
- Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash indicated that the team intends to tender Gerardo Parra a contract rather than cutting him loose, according to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Parra’s hefty $6.4MM projection is quite a sum for a fourth outfielder, though Ash noted that he has received plenty of playing time as a part-time starter and frequent reserve. And, of course, a trade could still be made.
- It seems likely that the Cardinals will non-tender utilityman Daniel Descalso, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes. Descalso carries a $1.4MM projected salary but saw a reduced role last year and the organization has added several apparent pieces that would seem to be viable replacements.
Fresh off wins over Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Brewers, who have occupied first place for a club-record 135 days, will look to sweep the NL West-leading Dodgers for just the second time in franchise history. Here’s the latest news and notes out of Milwaukee, courtesy of Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
- The front office is very worried about the chronic nerve injury to Ryan Braun‘s right thumb, which has sapped his power and threatens to make the five-year, $105MM extension signed in 2011 an albatross. “I don’t think the financial part of it matters because he’s going to get it whether he has a good thumb or a bad thumb,” Assistant GM Gord Ash told Haudricourt. “It’s guaranteed money. From a comfort and playing point of view, you want to find a solution. The money is the money. You can’t change it now. So, what you’re trying to do is put him in the best physical condition you can to succeed.“
- The Brewers and Aramis Ramirez hold a $14MM mutual option (with a $4MM buyout, if the team declines its half) for 2015. Haudricourt envisions a scenario where Ramirez and his agent, Paul Kinzer, could leverage a weak crop of free agent third basemen and seek a second year or, at the very least, a vesting option in return for exercising the player’s half of the mutual option. If a deal cannot be worked out and Ramirez does decline his option, Haudricourt notes he could receive a qualifying offer dampening the market for the 36-year-old, but also leaving the Brewers on the hook for approximately $15MM.
- The Brewers tabled extension talks with shortstop Jean Segura in March over an inability to gauge the 24-year-old’s worth in light of Andrelton Simmons‘ seven-year, $58MM deal. Segura has struggled offensively this year (.234/.268/.318), which Haudricourt attributes to a combination of pressing to show he is deserving of such a rich contract, bad luck (.261 BABIP compared to .325 in 2013), and the tragic death of his infant son. Haudricourt opines the best course of action for both sides is to let Segura establish his future value in 2015, since he isn’t eligible for salary arbitration until after that season.
- In a recent online chat, Haudricourt sees the Brewers tendering a contract to Gerardo Parra, who is eligible for arbitration for the final time this offseason. The 27-year-old outfielder, acquired by the Brewers at the Trade Deadline, is earning $4.85MM this season.
Here’s the latest from the desert…
- The Diamondbacks’ deadline trades are analyzed by several rival talent evaluators, who share their thoughts with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Some scouts feel Gerardo Parra is on the decline and could’ve been a non-tender candidate since he’s on pace to earn between $6-7MM in arbitration this winter, so “getting even a decent piece for Parra is a great move,” said one American League source. Parra was dealt to the Brewers on Thursday.
- Catching prospect Peter O’Brien has power but his defense and ability to play in the NL drew mixed reviews from scouts, though the biggest benefit of his acquisition was that the Yankees took the roughly $25MM remaining on Martin Prado‘s contract off Arizona’s books. Losing Prado, of course, removes the biggest piece from the Justin Upton trade, and Piecoro notes that the D’Backs have now traded several stars (including Upton, Prado and Parra, among others) when their value has been low, rather than selling high.
- One of those low-return deals could be the three-team trade between the D’Backs, Reds and Indians from December 2012, as Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer feels the Tribe look like the winners of that trade 20 months later. Arizona gave up a highly-regarded pitching prospect in Trevor Bauer (due to reported attitude issues with team management) and relievers Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers in the trade, and now Bauer seems to be turning the corner as a rotation staple while Shaw has been a valuable setup man for Cleveland. The Snakes, meanwhile, got back Tony Sipp, Lars Anderson and Didi Gregorius in the deal; they’ll regret this one if Bauer becomes an ace, though Gregorius seems like a promising enough young shortstop that I wouldn’t say Arizona made off poorly in the trade.
- Archie Bradley is pitching well at Double-A Mobile and, perhaps more importantly, is healthy after an injury scare in April, Jack Magruder writes for Baseball America. Bradley was shut down for a while to ensure that his right elbow was fit, and he has a 3.97 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and a 1.47 K/BB rate in 34 innings for Mobile (his numbers somewhat inflated by one particularly poor start). Magruder speculates that Bradley might get a late-season promotion if the D’Backs move to a six-man rotation.
The Diamondbacks are shopping outfielder Gerardo Parra, an MLB executive tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The 27-year-old is earning $4.85MM in his penultimate season of arbitration eligibility.
Parra, who bats from the left side, was said to be an unlikely trade candidate, but it appears that Arizona’s stance has changed. Parra has struggled this year with a .256/.301/.358 line, while defensive metrics have soured on his work in the outfield. After posting 5.5 rWAR and 4.5 fWAR last year, he has been at or below replacement level in 2014.
Nevertheless, Parra could be attractive to teams given his ability to play center and track record of success. And while he will not be cheap next year, Parra should remain affordable in a market that handed eight-figure, two-year guarantees to players like Nate McLouth, Rajai Davis, and David Murphy.
In his latest column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reminds everyone why experienced foreigners like Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu are considered eligible for Rookie of the Year awards. Of course, players like Abreu and Tanaka come with years of professional experience, but they still have to make a significant transition when it comes to the move to MLB, both professionally and culturally. Here’s more from Rosenthal..
- High school left-hander (and first overall draft choice) Brady Aiken reportedly arrived in Houston last Monday, which would indicate that an agreement was close, but a week later nothing has been announced and neither side is saying why. The holdup, Rosenthal says, bears a resemblance to the delays that occasionally occur in free agency when players fail physicals and teams try to rework deals. If indeed Aiken failed his physical, the Astros would have the right to offer him 40 percent of his signing bonus value, according to the new draft rules that were negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement in 2011. Of course, this is just speculation on Rosenthal’s part and only the parties involved know whether there is any kind of issue with Aiken’s physical.
- D’Backs outfielder and fan favorite Gerardo Parra might be among the least likely in Arizona to be traded. With A.J. Pollock and Mark Trumbo on the disabled list, a trade of the 27-year-old would leave the club short on experienced outfielders. It’s also unclear how much Parra would bring back in a trade. Parra is making $4.85MM in his third year of arbitration and amounts to little more than a platoon player, given his career .586 OPS against left-handers. Third baseman Martin Prado, earning $11MM per season through 2016, is another player the D’Backs might opt to keep, even though he has struggled at the plate as well. Second baseman Aaron Hill, meanwhile, is expendable given their surplus of middle infielders.
- It would be surprising if the Dodgers traded an outfielder considering the recent injury woes of Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, and Andre Ethier.
- The Tigers didn’t re-sign Joaquin Benoit last winter because they didn’t want to pay him closer money, but he still makes sense for them as a mid-season pickup. The Padres reliever, who turns 37 in July, is owed about $3MM this season and $8MM next season with an $8MM team option or $1.5MM buyout for 2016.
- Jake Arrieta probably has the best stuff of any Cubs starter right now but, of course, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are more likely to be traded since Arrieta is under club control through 2017. Lefty Travis Wood, meanwhile, could be an extension candidate once the Cubs complete their rotation selloff.